Excerpts of a 2016 interview with historian Philip Mansel, author of Aleppo: the Rise and Fall of Syria’s Great Merchant City. Dr Mansel describes Aleppo’s colourful history, its trading position, and the vulnerability of cosmopolitan cities, both in the Middle East and elsewhere. (Courtesy: B Hadrian)
Philip Mansel is a historian of France and the Middle East. He has lived in Paris, Beirut and Istanbul, and often visited Aleppo. In 2012 he won the London Library Life in Literature Award, and in 2013 became a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres. His most recent publication is The Eagle in Splendour: Inside the Court of Napoleon (2015). Aleppo: The Rise and Fall of Syria’s Great Merchant City is his third book on cosmopolitan cities of the Middle East, after Constantinople: City of the World’s Desire (1995), on Istanbul, and Levant: Splendour and Catastrophe on the Mediterranean (2010), on Smyrna, Alexandria and Beirut.